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Cell. 2002 Jan 25;108(2):221-32.

Human interferon-gamma mRNA autoregulates its translation through a pseudoknot that activates the interferon-inducible protein kinase PKR.

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Department of Molecular Virology, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.


PKR, an interferon (IFN)-inducible protein kinase activated by double-stranded RNA, inhibits translation by phosphorylating the initiation factor eIF2alpha chain. We show that human IFN-gamma mRNA uses local activation of PKR in the cell to control its own translation yield. IFN-gamma mRNA activates PKR through a pseudoknot in its 5' untranslated region. Mutations that impair pseudoknot stability reduce the ability to activate PKR and strongly increase the translation efficiency of IFN-gamma mRNA. Nonphosphorylatable mutant eIF2alpha, knockout of PKR and PKR inhibitors 2-aminopurine, transdominant-negative PKR, or vaccinia E3L correspondingly enhances translation of IFN-gamma mRNA. The potential to form the pseudoknot is phylogenetically conserved. We propose that the RNA pseudoknot acts to adjust translation of IFN-gamma mRNA to the PKR level expressed in the cell.

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